Category: Diane’s Favorites

City of Windows
August 7th, 2019 by diane92345

Watch out Lincoln Rhyme and Amos Decker, there is a new crime-fighter in town! In a City of Windows, how do you determine where a sniper shot from? Ask Lucas Page, a damaged but extraordinarily gifted crime solver in New York City.

When university professor Lucas Page is called on to assist his old employer, the FBI, with finding a sniper, he hesitates to comply. His career there was over years ago when he lost a leg, an arm, and an eye in the line of duty. However, when they say that the victim was his former partner, Lucas agrees. He uses his genius-level math skills to hunt down the sniper. Unfortunately, before he can find him, the killer strikes again. When the sniper threatens his family, Lucas must act quick and decisively to save them from death.

I just loved this (hold on why I pick up my Thesaurus) praiseworthy, spine-tingling thriller. It is everything you want (and need) in a thriller. Compelling plot, surprising twists, well thought-out characters, and an excellent ending are all here. Seriously, you can’t go wrong selecting this book. It’s great! 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Perfect Wife
August 5th, 2019 by diane92345

Abbie is beautiful, creative, and smart. But is she the Perfect Wife?

Tim is the intelligent and driven founder of a tech firm designing robots that include state-of-the-art artificial intelligence. First, the robots are used for phone call centers. The next step is shopbots to replace salespeople in high-end clothing stores. Tim is also socially awkward. It surprises his staff when he starts romancing the free-spirited artist-in-residence Abbie. Could Abbie fit into his work-obsessed life?

Wow, just wow. The Perfect Wife is the perfect merging of science fiction, science fact, and thriller. The best thing is not to learn anything about the plot before reading this excellent thriller. However, I can guarantee you will enjoy it so much it will be as difficult to stop reading as it is to stop breathing. Don’t start reading it a half-hour before work begins unless you plan to call in sick. It is that good!

Again, I can’t recommend this tale highly enough. I also enjoyed the expert use of tenses to delineate timeline and foreshadow the extremely clever ending. 5 stars!

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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An Unsettled Grave
August 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Monica was stopped by a policeman on a lonely country road late one night. Then she was raped by the policeman. Carrie, the sole female county detective, is dispatched to handle the case. When she ruffles the local police force by asking for “voluntary” DNA swabs, Carrie is reassigned to a new case by her politically motivated Chief in An Unsettled Grave.

Old bones of a child are dug up by a hunting dog in the rural Liston-Patterson, Pennsylvania. Hope was twelve years old in 1981 when she went missing. As the only child that age unaccounted for in the small town, the bones are likely hers. When Carrie finds evidence of the crime overlooked at the time in old case files, she decides to solve the crime. The town’s police chief just wants to provide closure for the parents—not reopen old wounds. Carrie also learns of the deaths of both of the town’s police chiefs within a day of Hope’s disappearance. Is it a coincidence? Carrie thinks not and so also investigates those deaths, labeled at the time as a suicide and a shooting by a motorcycle gang.

An Unsettled Grave is unsettling but it is also an exceptional police procedural. It flashes back to 1981 to show the reader what happened while alternating with how Carrie is using evidence to prove it today almost forty years later. You can tell it was written by a former police officer. Carrie is frustrated by politics and apathy making her job more difficult.

The story has larger themes too. Post-Traumatic Stress from the Vietnam War is almost another character in the novel. It impacts two major characters from 1981 resulting in divergent methods to handle it back in the “real world”. Bullying is described in both the present and 1981.

While the story ties into the previous book in the series, this book can easily be read as a standalone. If you love police procedurals, you must read An Unsettled Grave. It is not only my favorite police procedural this year but of all time! It is a gritty and authentic take on police work and a great mystery to boot. 5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Other Mrs. Miller
July 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Phoebe Miller is hiding inside of a wine bottle inside her house for a number of reasons at the beginning of the Other Mrs. Miller.

Phoebe’s father has recently died and left her his fortune. Unfortunately, his death has also triggered a very public outpouring of women accusing him of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape during his lifetime. Phoebe feels both embarrassed and somehow guilty at the same time.

Phoebe and her husband, Wyatt, have had difficulties with having a child. When Wyatt brings up adoption, Phoebe brusquely shuts him down. They are now more roommates than spouses.

There is a strange car frequently parked in front of Phoebe’s house. Phoebe begins to get paranoid that the petite driver is one of her father’s victims or a paparazzo.

When a new family moves in across the street, Phoebe is attracted to the eighteen-year-old son, Jake. But when she brings a housewarming gift, she soon becomes best friends with Jake’s mom, Vicki. Vicki has her own slew of baggage to bring to the table.

To say the Other Mrs. Miller is stuffed with plots would be an understatement. But it is hard not to sympathize with passive Phoebe’s problems. Phoebe seems to just let problems wash over her like a wave that she assumes will eventually recede. When Phoebe finally does an affirmative action to improve her life, fate takes another swipe at her.

The twists and turns of the plot are unexpected and fun like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. Though I love to try and determine a solution before the characters, I was way off for this book. And I love it! If you like extreme and unexpected plot twists in your domestic thrillers, this is the book for you. 5 stars!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sleepwalker
July 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Definitely the best noir I’ve read this year! The Sleepwalker is the third dark thriller in the terrific Aidan Waits series.

Down these dark hospital corridors a man must go… Aidan and his shady partner Sutty are watching a serial killer called The Sleepwalker die. The Manchester Police are hoping that the prisoner will tell Sutty where he left the body of his last victim. Instead, he denies the killing immediately before both he and Sutty are bombed in the hospital room.

While this is only the beginning of the twisty tale, I can’t even begin to tell you more without it being a spoiler. What I can do is highly recommend this gritty British noir for its impeccably nuanced characters and impressive plotting. Every noir fan must read this book! Fans of thrillers and police procedurals (though Aidan is not one to follow many rules) will enjoy it also. 5 stars!

Thanks to Doubleday UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Bookish Life of Nina Hill
July 13th, 2019 by diane92345

In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina is a book lover, a list manic, a cat owner, an introvert, and a nerdy trivia player. Nina is also me! (if I was a Millennial of course).

Nina loves her quiet, well-ordered life working in a bookstore, serving her cat Phil, playing on a pub trivia team, and above all losing herself in books. When she finds herself with a new large extended family after her unknown father’s death, her world threatens to teeter into disorder (or what OCD’ish Nina calls chaos).

While that is the plot in a nutshell, the heart’s blood of the Bookish Life of Nina Hill is Nina herself. All “bookworms” like myself will feel an immediate kinship to Nina. She’s adorable! While outwardly an introvert, Nina’s thoughts are full of snarky side eyes at the people surrounding her and pop/literary references like a book-reading Bart Simpson. Even with her love of her second favorite 19th century novel, Pride and Prejudice, Nina still is of the current century. She is a member of many clubs that sound like they came straight out of the nerdy section of the Meetup app.

Anyone who is female and likes to read will see themselves in Nina and truly enjoy this book. How can a reader not love a book that starts out with a quote from Sally Brown from Peanuts waxing poetic about library cards! It is highly recommended. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. 5 stars!

While I received an advanced review copy from Berkley Books and Edelweiss+ in exchange for my honest review, I also bought it on audio. The narrator, Emily Rankin, is exceptional and improved this already great book. I wish I could give it an extra star in audible form.

Posted in Audiobooks, Diane's Favorites, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books, Romance, Women's Fiction Tagged with:

Black Jersey
June 26th, 2019 by diane92345

You are racing on a bicycle in the Tour de France. It’s your first race as a professional earning 50 euros a week (or almost $57 American). Not enough to support this expensive sport but enough to enter the race. If you win the yellow jersey (first place) in even one of the twenty-one stages of the race, you will get some sweet endorsement deals. Unfortunately, you are a domestique destined to help others win but never win yourself. When a series of mishaps befall some of the top racers, the French police ask you to help with their inquiries from within. You agree. What you find will rock your world…

I don’t follow professional cycling and have only occasionally watched it during the Olympics. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Black Jersey. In addition to determining the saboteur, it was exciting to feel a part of the races riding first person as Frenchman Marc, the domestique of American Steve both with team Fonar. The author effortlessly weaves the racing into the mystery and the mystery into the racing. The road and the mystery are extremely twisty. The suspects are many. The conclusion was unexpected even though all the clues were in place.

Black Jersey is highly recommended for thriller readers. 5 stars!

26Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sentence is Death
June 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Richard Pryce is killed with an expensive wine bottle. The killer writes 182 in green paint on the wall. Those are not the most extraordinary points in The Sentence is Death.

Anthony Horowitz, the fictional writer, written by the real Anthony Horowitz, the author of this book, is working with freelance Detective Daniel Hawthorne again. Horowitz does have a contractual obligation for two more books of 80,000 words each. His attitude is to get the book done so he can go back to working on (the real British television show) Foyle’s War.

Back to the murder. Pryce is a celebrity divorce lawyer working on a 10 million pound settlement. His client’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Akira Anno, threatens to kill Pryce with a wine bottle loudly in a restaurant. Awkward for her when he is found dead by the same method less than 24 hours later.

The Sentence is Murder is another riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma from bestselling author Anthony Horowitz. All I can say is don’t piss the real Mr. Horowitz off. He can obviously plot a murder that no one will solve.

I went into this book looking for the most unlikely suspect who had opportunity. However, I failed to identify the murderer before either Hawthorne or fictional Horowitz. There are really three mysteries here. I feel slightly better because I was able to solve the two smaller ones. For anyone who enjoys mysteries especially golden age or older stories, you can’t go wrong picking this book up. It has no spoilers for the first in the series so they can be read in any order. Highly recommended with a rating of 5 stars! I can’t wait for the third in the planned trilogy.

Thanks to Harper Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Night Window
May 15th, 2019 by diane92345

It’s time for Jane Hawk to finally get some payback for her husband’s death and so much more in Night Window.

The Techno-Arcadians have chased former FBI Agent Jane Hawk through four books already. Jane is trying to bring to light a massive conspiracy of billionaires. The Arcadians inserted a nanobot into Jane’s husband’s brain. When activated, he was forced to kill himself. In previous books, the nanobots were used to create both assassins and sex slaves.

Protecting her young son Travis is Jane’s highest priority as well proving her husband’s innocence. However, Jane’s ultimate goal is to expose the Arcadian’s evil plan to the public. This time she has some help from a former colleague, computer hacker Vikram.

I have been lucky enough to acquire the entire Jane Hawk series as Advanced Reader Copies. While Night Window can be read as a standalone, it is rather like reading the last chapter in a book. You would be cheating yourself out of a suspenseful ride. The conclusion is definitely worth the wait.

The author’s writing style is not for everyone. Mr. Koontz has never met an adjective he didn’t like. While effective in horror, it feels rather out of place in a thriller. It does rather slow down the pace. However, the use of such detailed imagery intensifies the atmosphere and allows a closer connection with the series’ characters. The plot, over the entire series, is engaging enough to compel the reader through each book.

Overall, an excellent conclusion to an outstanding series. 5 stars! Now, please Mr. Koontz, write another excellent paranormal thriller like Watchers.

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Bluff
April 1st, 2019 by diane92345

“Poker has its own moral universe. Lying is called bluffing. Deception is the norm.”—from the new humorous revenge thriller Bluff

Maud is convinced that her parent’s financial advisor, Burt, stole all their money. However, she cannot get anyone to believe her.

Broke, Maud plays online poker. Skilled at the game, she wins. When the online casinos are shuttered by the government, Maud turns to live games. Throughout it all, she continues to nurse her grudge with Burt.

One morning, she walks into the Four Seasons and shoots Burt. Luckily for Burt, he is able to shield himself with his lunch companion, and longtime friend, Sun. While Sun is in the ICU, his secrets begin to unravel leading to a domino effect on his entire social circle.

Structured like poker itself, Bluff manages to surprise at every turn. Plus it has many moves like tournament poker. Honestly, if you love thrillers where the motive is cunningly plotted revenge, you will love this tale as much as I do. 5 stars!

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Never Tell
March 25th, 2019 by diane92345

Another awesome entry in the Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren series. Both D.D. and Flora Dane have a past connection to a new murder case in Never Tell.

Evie is happily married to Conrad and four months pregnant with their first child. Coming home after work, she finds Conrad shot dead in his study. Something on his laptop disturbs her so much that she calmly picks up the murder weapon and shoots the computer twelve times. The police find her holding the gun and arrest her for murder.

Evie was D.D.’s first murder case sixteen years earlier. Evie had shot her father. Her only comment, “It was an accident. An unfortunate accident.” Evie was not charged.

Flora Dane, now working as D.D.’s confidential informant, recognizes the victim, Conrad, from her days with her abductor, Jacob. What secrets are hiding behind Evie’s and Conrad’s seemingly normal facade?

Never Tell is another gripping thriller by Lisa Gardner. Told from the viewpoint of Evie, D.D., and Flora, Flora’s sections were the ones I was racing toward. Flora describes more of what happened to her during her abduction. In addition, Flora shows almost a human side in this book, which is nice to see.

While this book is a highly recommended thriller, I would suggest strongly to read Find Her, where Flora Dane’s story is initially told, before reading this one. It will increase your understanding of Flora’s story (plus it’s a great book on its own).  With that sole caveat, Never Tell is highly recommended to all thriller lovers. You won’t be disappointed! 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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A Beautiful Corpse
March 19th, 2019 by diane92345

The victim, a 24-year-old law student and part-time bartender, is A Beautiful Corpse in the second entry in the Harper McClain series.

Harper is a newspaper crime reporter working the night shift. She is covering a murder in the tourist area of Savannah when she thinks the victim looks familiar. Harper had just seen the victim, Naomi, a couple of hours earlier working in The Library Bar.

The police have three suspects:

  • Naomi’s boyfriend, who has a criminal record and no alibi
  • Her stalker, the District Attorney’s son, with a solid alibi
  • Naomi’s boss, who had a run in with another young female employee two years ago and has no alibi.

Harper is investigating for her newspaper but she also disagrees with the person the police suspect. As she investigates, she is also battling a stalker who may or may not want to help her with the case.

Even though this is the second book in this series, it can be read as a stand-alone. When you begin A Beautiful Corpse make sure you have enough time to finish it in one sitting.  I literally couldn’t put it down. I was reading it on my Kindle and I bought the audiobook so I could listen to it on my drive to and from work. That’s how addicting this book was. I loved the innovative point-of-view of an investigative reporter doing basically police procedures because the police don’t or won’t. Harper is a great character and I was extremely invested in her success both with the case, her job and her love life. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Silent Patient
March 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Silent Patient is a spellbinding whipsaw of a thrill ride where you won’t see the end coming!

Alicia kills her husband who she appeared to be head-over-heels in love with. She is arrested, tried, found guilty and taken to a mental health facility. Throughout the ordeal, Alicia refuses to discuss her motive or to talk at all for six years.

Her therapist, Theo, tries to break through Alicia’s silence. His story is told within the Silent Patient. Alicia’s diary entries are also provided. I enjoyed Alicia’s viewpoint the best. However, the shocking ending is the best part of this tale. This psychological thriller is highly recommended for domestic thriller fans. 5 stars!

Thanks to Celadon Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Tear It Down
January 24th, 2019 by diane92345

Tear It Down is a rip-roaring adventure into the underbelly of Memphis with Peter Ash’s haunted military veteran taking down drug dealers with the help of his friends and girlfriend, June.

Peter gets antsy when he stays at home too much so June sends him to her friend, Wanda, in Tennessee whose house has been vandalized. While there, he gets involved with drug gangs, bandits and hidden treasure.

I can’t believe I have never heard of this series before and this is book four. Even though I received a copy from Edelweis+, I couldn’t stop reading it to drive to work so I bought the audiobook! The audiobook narrator uses his skills with accents to great effect, which makes it easy to tell the characters apart (even in heavy traffic). It made my hour long commute fly by.

Tear It Down is fantastic with both a great plot and great characters. This series is highly recommended for Jack Reacher fans as Peter is even more of a loose cannon. 5 stars!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Boy
January 6th, 2019 by diane92345

With a masterful plot, unique characters and a pitch-perfect rural setting, there is nothing in The Boy that I didn’t love.

A woman awakens to a ghastly sound coming from 7-year-old son’s room. Racing to his room, she finds him stabbed multiple time and the killer next turns the knife on her. Fearing for her safety, she runs bloody and wounded to her neighbors for help.

Annie and Nick, married detectives in rural Partout Parish Louisiana, are assigned the case. If only they could stop the new grandstanding Sheriff, Kelvin Dutrow, from trying to “modernize” the detectives’ methods. When a second child disappears, panic runs high as the detectives race to see if the two cases are connected.

The plotting is done with such precision that the reader sees none of the machinery and can sit back and enjoy the twist-filled ride. The rural Louisiana setting seems like a character all by itself and the characters in The Boy are one of its greatest charms. There is hot-headed Cajun Nick’s frequent switches into French patois. There is level-headed Annie who tries to reel her husband in.

You rarely find a book with both good characters and fine plotting. I loved The Boy. 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Accidental Beauty Queen
December 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

Humor and digs fly when two sisters attempt to win a beauty pageant with an Accidental Beauty Queen.

Charlotte is resigned to never being the pretty sister. Her sister, Ginny, has followed in their mother’s footsteps in the pageant world. Charlotte followed in their father’s footsteps by being a reader and a primary school librarian. There is no need for bedazzling, hair extensions or even makeup in Charlotte’s world.

When Ginny invites Charlotte to share her hotel room during the Miss American Treasure contest in Orlando Florida, Charlotte is overjoyed for the chance to visit the Harry Potter theme park. However, the second evening, Ginny has an allergic reaction that swells her face threefold. Ginny convinces Charlotte to pretend to be her in the prelims because the two sisters are (wait for it…) identical twins.

The author does a great job making light of the easy comparison to Miss Congeniality. The makeover scenes are hilarious. When an attractive man sees the real Charlotte under all the glam, things get all Pride and Prejudicey. It is a great mashup—both literary and chick lit at the same time. The Accidental Beauty Queen is highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun happy story. 5 stars!

Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Humor Tagged with: ,